And how to use them wisely.
When used appropriately and tailored to our specific goals, fitness trackers can significantly boost performance and overall well-being.
However, these increasingly complex devices may trigger negative effects when their integration into our daily lives is done in a rather chaotic, unstructured way.
Here is how fitness tracker use can sabotage your psychological and physical well-being.
Fitness Trackers May Diminish Intrinsic Motivation
External rewards tend to diminish intrinsic motivation for activities we initially find interesting and enjoyable. The data you get from fitness trackers, especially when you are reaching your goals, may act as an external reward and have a negative effect on your inner motivations for physical fitness and general well-being.
You may end up being more concerned about the numbers, icons, or badges that announce your daily success than consider the actual physical and mental benefits that you get from exercising.
In time, this may lower your intrinsic motivation for engaging in these activities since the reward center moved from internal to external. It’s no longer about you, your health, and your ability to achieve significant personal goals, but about challenges, numbers, and colorful badges.
How To Fix It
Remind yourself constantly what your self-care goals are. Retrace everything back to your main “why” and make sure that the gadgets are your aids, not your masters.
Fitness Trackers May Increase Emotional Stress Through Task and Goal Overload
Not all data tracked by fitness gadgets are linked to a significant personal fitness goal. The ever-increasing data representations may look very structured and helpful, but not all users will find an actual use for each category. Prioritizing the type of data that you track seems to be a very important step in reaping the benefits of the technology available to us without allowing it to overwhelm and misguide us into creating more goals than we actually need.
How To Fix It
Match your data category tracking to your specific medical condition and related objectives. And only use it until you form the new healthy habit.
Track calorie intake if it’s needed for your medical context — you either have a condition that requires close monitoring of this type of data or you want to have an overall idea of where you are now on this specific scale. Track hydration data until you assimilate a healthy hydration schedule and habit. Don’t overload your to-do list with things that do not need monitoring. Even if most of the work it’s being carried by an app.
If these tasks do not hold meaning for you, they will only add emotional stress to your daily routine and will interfere with your potential to meet significant objectives.
Fitness Trackers May Promote An Unhealthy Preoccupation With One’s Health
Everything in moderation. This goes for our preoccupation with being healthy as well. Healthy habits can become maladaptive when we assign an extreme value to them. They end up taking up more time than needed to reach reasonable, good-enough results, and the effort required to achieve almost impossible objectives may trigger a wide range of negative emotions — stress, frustration, lowered self-esteem and sense of self-worth when goals are not being achieved, etc. Our preoccupation with health may become an unhealthy habit when we let it take a central place in our life.
How To Fix It
Our reasonable goals can be about being healthy and happy, but we should keep in mind that an endeavor to be extremely healthy may lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Let your inner compass set the goals, not the gadget you wear on your wrist.